Gut and blood microbiomics for studying the effect of a polyphenol-rich dietary pattern on intestinal permeability in the elderly

Lead Research Organisation: Quadram Institute Bioscience
Department Name: Contracts


The aim of the MaPLE project is to test the hypothesis that increasing the consumption of polyphenols by elderly subjects with established intestinal permeability (IP) will cause beneficial changes in their gut microbiota, reduced IP and decreased translocation of inflammogenic bacterial factors into the blood, thus lowering systemic inflammation.

The intestinal microbiota is a major IP regulator that can act directly by affecting tight junctions, and indirectly by modulating inflammation, which is a key promoter of impaired IP. Consequently, manipulation of the intestinal microbial ecosystem can be a novel strategy to improve IP. Dietary patterns are the dominant factor that shapes gut microbiota composition and dietary intervention strategies could modify the relative abundance of specific bacterial groups and consequently affect the maintenance of normal intestinal barrier function, whose impairment is associated with chronic low grade inflammation in the elderly. In the context of a diet-microbiota-IP axis in the elderly, food bioactives such as polyphenols can have a regulatory role.

Multidisciplinary expertise (nutrition, gut microbiology, gut immunology, geriatrics, metabolomics) has been brought together in the 3-year MaPLE project which centres on a randomised, controlled cross-over design dietary intervention (polyphenol-rich diet versus control diet) in elderly people (>65 y) living in a controlled defined setting. Each intervention will last 8 weeks (total duration of 24 weeks). Peripheral blood, urine, and faecal samples will be collected before and after each intervention period to evaluate blood bacterial and LPS loads, blood and faecal microbiota composition, short chain fatty acids and polyphenol-derived metabolites, urine metabolites, and markers of inflammation, oxidative stress and endothelial function. Mechanisms underlying the polyphenols-mediated effects on IP will be also investigated through in vitro (cell lines) and in vivo (mouse) models.


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